You may have noticed there’s a lot going on here at the minute. It’s not an exaggeration to say that in the current climate, the football is almost second fiddle to the political machinations and social unrest of the Republic of Newcastle United.

Suddenly, I’m sat trying to write about the match out of nowhere and hot on the heels of the first anti-Sports Direct protest.

I have an approach that I’m happy with over the next season. I am firmly behind any anti-Ashley action and believe it can be a difference maker. Suddenly we seem to be getting national attention, empathy from other fans and prominent voices in the media seeing the fans point of view. If we are to cling to any shred of hope of being rid of Ashley then making his position as  uncomfortable as possible can only help. However, the fact that I’m writing this clarifies the fact that I was at the game and will be all season, which many seem to see as the ultimate betrayal, the £500 boost to Ashleyism that is keeping the Sports Direct ship afloat.

If Rafa Goes We Go is a project that will sadly be likely to reach its endgame. In a year’s time there will be a choice to make, whether to walk away on principle or keep taking the black and white pill. In the meantime, we have a world class manager, a decent squad and I would say good odds of staying in the Premier League. I want to try and enjoy it on some level as it may go away forever and when Rafa, Kenedy and Lascelles are lifting the Champions League with some properly run pricks, I want to say I enjoyed them while I could. So I saw off a few pints and took to the seat I’ve been in for 23 years to see what happens this time.

Tottenham’s team was full of blokes who had been involved in the final weekend of the World Cup and they seemed a bit sluggish for it. United’s rustiness was surely more self-inflicted as a result of uncertain preparation and internal distractions. It was to prove costly as Spurs got an early bit of luck.

First, Dubravka dived to save Eriksen’s unthreatening shot that was clearly heading tamely wide. The flicked on corner saw Dummett sleeping a bit as Vertonghen headed it goalwards but Dubravka frantically scrambled the ball clear and Kane blasted the chance wide. However, a terrible moment then followed where the new tangled technology told the ref there was 9 millimetres of daylight between line and ball, which shouldn’t count as it’s not enough.

newcastle 1 tottenham 2

Proper goals should be laced into the back of the net or stick in the stanchion of the goal and this one was a fit up. Disappointing that they got two clear consecutive headers in our box though.

Any thoughts that United weren’t capable of getting back in the game lasted 149 seconds, when Ritchie took Yedlin’s pass and whipped in a magnificent cross for Joselu to head smartly past Lloris, his first competitive goal conceded as a World Cup winner. Marking wasn’t great from them either come to think of it.

Any thoughts that we may take the ascendancy lasted about seven minutes. Dummett’s tackle on Eriksen broke unkindly to Aurier and he hit a first time cross perfectly into Delle Alli’s run past the sleeping Yedlin, no chance for Dubravka with the resultant header. I’m sure we were alright at defending last year.

By this point Spurs were worthy of the lead as we struggled to take advantage of an unexpectedly open match. A goalmouth scramble suddenly fell invitingly to Clark, but he screwed it wide when any effort on target would have seen them queuing up for rebounds.

You soon got the feeling it just wasn’t our day. The second half performance was a definite step up but the universe is just against Newcastle United at the minute. Diame hit a thunderous shot that smacked against the post before our finest chance went begging in the most unlikely fashion.

If you get the chance to watch the highlights of this game, please take a moment to appreciate the stunning brilliance of Joselu’s defence splitting outside of the foot pass that put Kenedy one on one in an acre of space. Surely he couldn’t miss this? Unfortunately, Kenedy’s awful first touch was reminiscent of a Brazilian predecessor in the United shirt, Fumaca (anyone “lucky” enough to have witnessed his brief Newcastle career will attest to the astounding ball control), and Lloris got a chance he never should have been given.

We had to be grateful to Dubravka at the other end for a couple of smart stops, particularly in denying Sissoko a goal that would have been hard to stomach. Probably not as hard to stomach as the fact that if he stuck in here he might have had a World Cup winners medal mind. The visitors were threatening but I get the feeling Spurs will be far harder to beat in a couple of months when they’ve pulled themselves together a bit, and this was starting to feel like a missed chance.

Joselu had a great game, but it was still a sense of relief to see Rondon enter the fray and he immediately got in amongst it, with Shelvey’s tremendous pinged pass to pick out his powerful run hopefully a sign of things to come. The Venezuelan went close to a debut goal when he took another Shelvey pass on the edge of the box and turned his man before a heavy deflection saw the shot drop agonisingly onto the crossbar. This was getting frustrating.

However, just as the introduction of Rondon added impetus, Rafa’s next substitution took it all away. Ritchie had been at his hyper productive best, running, probing and creating throughout, but maybe Atsu might mix it up a bit. Atsu was bloody awful, running down blind alleys, giving away possession and generally looking like he’d rolled up still drunk off Friday night. Spurs suddenly took the majority of possession and the match fizzled out.

The ironic twist in the tale was a 90th minute injury forcing Yedlin off the field, as I stood and wondered which midfielder or under 23 prospect was actually our back up right back. From today’s performance this team could do alright, but there is so little back up for certain key personnel that a couple of incidents like this could prompt a disaster. Fixtures aren’t exactly kind either are they?

Oh well, I’m determined to enjoy it while I can.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 1 Tottenham 2

Goals:

Newcastle: Joselu 11

Tottenham: Vertonghen 8, Alli 18

Possession was Tottenham 60% Newcastle 40%

Total shots were  Tottenham 15 Newcastle 15

Shots on target were Tottenham 5 Newcastle 2

Corners were  Tottenham 5 Newcastle 3

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie (Atsu 69), Shelvey, Diame, Kenedy, Perez (Muto 81), Joselu (Rondon 59)

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Manquillo, Schar, Ki

Crowd: 51,749 (3,000 Tottenham)

(Read instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the Spurs defeat HERE)

(You can read the match ratings for NUFC players from one of our writers HERE)

Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf

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  • Monkseaton Magpies

    A very well written account of the match. One thing you missed out was a cross at pace along the six yard box. Our first player just failed to make contact and with a second ready to tap the ball in the Spurs keeper grabbed it. Very fine margins indeed an extra coat of paint from the groundsman and would have got what we deserved. There are many pundits up and down the country defending Ashley the Crystal Palace Chairman the latest after Shola and others. A couple of hundred fans outside Sports Direct will do nothing. Is this new Magpie Group going to buy the club like the last lot did. I am waiting for a press announcement but nothing as yet. Maybe Tuesday.

    • SuperDesHamilton

      Monk I’m still searching for the interview where Benitez tells fans to not protest…can’t see it anywhere

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        You know I am correct Rafa says support the team, get behind the team there is the only evidence you need.

        • SuperDesHamilton

          That’s not evidence where is the interview by Benitez stating ‘do not protest’ ?

          • drc74

            OUR MAN, HE TOLD HIM DURING A CHANCE MEETING HE HAD WITH RAFFA IN A LIFT, WHAT MORE DO U NEED, 😂

          • SuperDesHamilton

            Rafa the bad fans are protesting 😫😫😫

    • mactoon

      The problem with the protests is, they are just protests with little or no leverage. Ashley is an absent owner in London so he can just choose to ignore the protests, leaving Barnes and Charnley to run the club, he can just wash his hands of it.

      The adverse publicity may irk the other board members of Sports Direct International but I doubt this will/can make any difference to Ashley’s other business interests. It’s his club and they don’t have any say on what he does with it.

      I remember the original Magpie Group headed by John Hall buying every share they could get their hand on in order to oust McKeag. Unless the current group are going to reach out in order to engage and motivate potential buyer groups or organise a push to raise finances from fans/others in order to raise the money required to buy the club I don’t see them making much difference other than raising awareness that the fan base is not happy.

      Bottom line is without a buyer Ashley is going nowhere.

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        Yes I had many meetings with the Magpie group but what useful purpose did I serve not a lot as they not me bought the shares.

        • mactoon

          I remember dealing with boxes and boxes of those shares through my job back then but this time all the shares are owned by Ashley so the only way to get them out of his possession is to pay the purchase price.

    • Superdooperhooper

      If I was parish I’d concentrate on my own relegation dodgers and as for shola he’s not the brightest bulb in the box

    • Spoon_Army

      Fine margins indeed.

  • SuperDesHamilton

    I’ll be involved in anything anti Ashley, but still pay him the pleasure to watch Newcastle 🤔

    No wonder he takes us for mugs

    • panther

      exactly mate, heres a grand, I hate you youre ruining my club, whats the date for the next direct debit, ludicrous

      • SuperDesHamilton

        Exactly honestly a mentioned this on here the other day, kid at work kicking off about Ashley buying no HOF, a said are you still going Saturday, to which he looked at me like I was stupid & replied aye obviously…that’s what we’re up against

    • Wor Lass

      Well, he did make that point himself at the beginning and mentioned 23 years of investment. It`s a dilemma. I never had a season ticket because I either played football, managed or refereed so it wasn`t worth it. I also worked away from Tyneside and the UK a lot and now live abroad so boycotting has never really been too great a sacrifice for me. I used to get to games whenever I could – especially away – but haven`t been for 4 years now. I support the idea of a boycott but I don`t criticise those fans who can`t do it. As Sid would say, “What a Carry On”!

      • SuperDesHamilton

        It’s all very strange to me

  • Wor Lass

    What was wrong with Dubravka? Ok, he made one particularly classy save – made even better by the act that it was off Moussa! – but his distribution and decision-making in the box was awful. As Jamie mentioned, he got his positional map muddled when he pushed Eriksen`s cross wider still but then he proceeded to kick the ball almost anywhere except to our players. I remember at least two which went straight out of play. He just didn`t look comfortable. Am I being hyper-critical?

    • Billmag

      You are correct about Dub’s, but some people on here can only highlight Perez and Diame when mistakes are being made.

  • LEE

    Quite happy overall with the first game.

    i dont see why Ritchie gets such a high score and Yedlin so poor, Ritchie was my MOM, but i think he had good support from yedlin, I gave a 7 to Yedlin and 9 to Ritchie. looking at replays Ritchie tracked Ali upto the Box then stopped.

    Kennedy had a good game

    Shelvey was let down by Diame

    Joselu scored, but overall didnt do much else,

    Perez , was he playing, other than his shot, hmmm was he their?

    I didnt see why Why Rafa took ritchie off or why Atsu was his replacement,, he has always been poor on the right side.

    new players looked good

    • Billmag

      Joselu didn’t do much else, he put in a cracking pass for Kennedy from which he should have scored.

      • LEE

        yes it was,

  • X,WHY,Y MAN.

    I fail to see what a bunch of people standing outside of S****S D****T on Northumberland Street is going to achieve.
    Ashley has hundreds of these outlets all over the country so a few people picketing outside of one is ridiculous imo.

    The group who are organizing this more or less did for themselves when they said, They would picket his shop but would still attend games to support the team lol
    How stupid is that !, We are back to clap trap like “Support The Team, Not The Regime.”
    In the end, You are still giving money to Ashley and validating his ownership of the club therefore wasting your time picketing “One” shop out of hundreds.
    What is it going to take for people to see the truth of what is staring them in the face ?

    • Ben Jones

      Wish it had have rained

    • Geordiegiants

      As much as I am for ANY sort of action being made against the fatcunt, it is really pointless as you say unless it’s a sustained attack on his pocket.
      It’s not about anything else but money for him.

      • FatParosite

        The attack is working otherwise why are the likes of Troglodyte Chimpanzee Keys, Poison Dwarf Wise and Tannerexic Simon Jordon coming out like cockroaches? Bishop is being paid overtime, which comes out of Ashley’s pocket.

    • FatParosite

      You’re absolutely right to get at the major problem. THE so-called FANS. If they want to make an impact start there. Instead this is a relatively futile protest. It plays into the agenda of fans who want to say something but don’t want to give up their season ticket. However anything is better than nothing.

  • Kneebotherm8

    Our back up right back for Yedlin is Manquillo…….our back up left back is……………Manquillo………

  • Jonas

    its no kind pill, there is usually an upside to them as well as a potential downside – its more like a lobotomy – where you know its never going to be good, because the goal is not to be good but either being okay with that or kidding yourself that its okay and that it will carry on as is for the rest of our lives if we do nothing.
    I’d rather start a club from scratch like FC United of Manchester than if you need a fix, than to be part of the desecration of the former NUFC.

  • FatParosite

    You write a statement like ‘However, the fact that I’m writing this clarifies the fact that I was at the game and will be all season, which many seem to see as the ultimate betrayal, the £500 boost to Ashleyism that is keeping the Sports Direct ship afloat.’ Then go on to even consider going back despite all of it? Anyone & I mean ANYONE who goes into the SJP is complicit to Ashley’s rape of our club. NO Exceptions.